A Portable Vs. Installed RV Genset

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Purchasing a generator for your RV is an important step toward your travel independence.  In order to keep from needing to plug-in straight to an electrical outlet during an recreational excursion, a generator will keep an air conditioner or multiple air conditioners, appliances that draw a lot of power like microwaves or large screen televisions or various combinations of lights, heaters and appliances running throughout any stay with an RV in a campground.  While some RV campers might choose to simply use an external outlet and “boondock” their trailer or motor home, sometimes it isn’t always possible to plug into a power source and that’s when prepared travelers can fall back on a generator in order to get the electricity they need to keep their vehicle’s accessories running and running smooth.  Depending on the region and the remoteness of the campground area, a plug in may not be accessible.  The availability of power can make or break an RV vacation. 

With the big advantage owning an RV generator can have on a traveler’s vacation, there are some pro’s and con’s to owning either a dedicated, installed generator for RV use or having a portable, moveable generator for your RV travels. 

Portable RV generators are good to have if you have other uses besides just camping that you want the generators to be used in as well.  For instance, if there are times when you may need a generator for work and want to haul the generator to a job site then a portable generator would be useful.  The other is if the generator is to be used as a standby for home use.  In this scenario if there is ever a major storm that causes a power outage then having a portable generator available is a good idea.  Of course, if there were a storm and there was a power outage than one could just stay in the RV with an installed generator inside, assuming the RV is stored near the home. 

Things to keep in mind when using a portable generator for camping or RV use, make sure there is a plug in adapter on the generator that is specific for RVs.  This will typically be a 30 amp plug that will allow the RV to run all its equipment on this circuit.  Having an RV ready 120 volt receptacle is a must in this situation.  A good 3500 to 4000 watt system is a good overall wattage to have.  Champion makes a generator set called the 46515 that is designed to work well with RVs. 

The upside to portable RV generators is that they can be used for more than just RV camping, they may be less expensive than the installed version and they can be moved from one end of a campsite to another if power needs to be transportable.  The downside is that they are typically much noisier than dedicated RV generators like the Onan brand, they can be less efficient in gas to power ratio (portables use more gas and provide less power), they must be manually loaded and unloaded into a truck bed or trailer every move and their exhaust direction must be considered very seriously for safety reasons.

Installed RV generators are useful in that they are always kept with the RV.  The pros are that they don’t need to be loaded into a truck during the drive to a campground.  Installed RV generators can use the same fuel the RV uses and will also actually draw from the large reservoir tank that a motorhome, for example, draws from.  This way the generator doesn’t even need to be refueled the way a portable generator will.  Everything on this type of RV generator is tuned into the RV’s electrical system meaning there is no guesswork as to whether it will work or if the loads are correct.  The exhaust system should already be adequate and verified when the generator was properly installed by an RV dealer.  Noise levels will most likely be lower in a dedicated generator over a portable one.

The cons to having an RV generator installed over portable is that it will probably cost more to buy and to own while a portable can be considerably cheaper.  Higher price means that if there is a breakdown or major repair that must be conducted than those prices will be higher as well.

RV camping and traveling is a great way to get out and see the country.  Make sure you have the right equipment for your travels.

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Jimmy Alvarez has 17 articles online

Best RV Generator includes information on RV generators for sale like the Onan and Generac brand units.  To buy the right RV genset research your options and find out which generator works best for you.

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A Portable Vs. Installed RV Genset

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This article was published on 2012/04/18